I woke up this morning with a new found respect and love for London. We are staying at a members-only hotel called the SoHo House. My wife being a model was given a global membership. Though they have houses all over the world, London is its birthplace. We are staying at the newest hotel in The Shore Ditch neighborhood. They have a beautiful pool on the rooftop, about 8 restaurants— 6 of which are accessible by members and hotel guests only. The other 2 are open to the public. The service has been excellent, the mixologists have been preparing excellent cocktails and the vibe is great. I have been charging everything to the room. However, every receipt I have signed includes a 10% service charge and there is no line for additional tip.
Last night, we started off in the Mayfair area filled with the most exotic cars, and finest restaurants. Being half Lebanese, I was craving some good lebanese food and a hookah. We found a small restaurant across from the Saudia Arabian embassy near Buckingham Palace. Though the venue was small and the build out and design was a C+ at best, I have never seen so many people wearing $100k watches. Apparently, much of the Saudia Arabian oil money from the Embassy was flowing over. The prices were outrageous. A hookah typically goes for $15.00-$20.00 in the States. The cheapest hookah here started at £45, which even after Brexit is around 60.00 bucks. However, there were many add-ons to the hookah like— fruit, liqour, ice, custom blends, and mixes. One hookah could cost up to £200! As mentioned, I am not a cheap American, but I am also not a stupid one. I was outraged by the pricing, so when the bill arrived, I was fully content with the 10% service charge automatically added. They did offer an additional tip feature— first I have seen in London. I respectfully declined the additional tip.
Our night continued to many more members-only, and exclusive venues making me realize how diverse London truly is, and how much money is floating around. The venues were much smaller than New York and much more exclusive. I was experiencing a side of London I had never heard of before. Once getting into any of these venues, the level of service and professionalism to their trade— whether it being a doorman, security guard, bathroom attendant, bartender, or server— was top notch; much different than anywhere in the States. Hence, my new found love and respect for London. One more night to go…..stay tuned.